Babies made-in-India - 8. Massage, bath & Breastfeeding
And this technique is somehow spreading in the West, with an interesting twist: the parents massage the baby themselves. It is a good to create a bond, while developing the motor skills of the child. The problem with this ‘twist’ is that the mother rarely gets her massage, unless the father is really available (and talented)! Be careful in cold western environment though ;)
For the mother, the idea is that massaging helps the inside organs to get back in place and shape. Paradoxically the re-education of the perineum is not even addressed by the Gynec! Finally, when I asked her,she told me to do some Kegel exercises at home. (I must add that my British midwife has also never heard of the type of perineum re-education prescribed by doctors and performed by physiotherapists in France.)
For the baby's bath, the masseuse sits on the floor with her leg stretched on which the infant lies. Less water wastage, less dangerous than a bucket which can fall of the table and from which the infant can swallow water (especially when he is slippery after a good massage!) but also less fun than a bathtub where he can turn and splash!
As for breastfeeding, beware! You shouldn’t say you are thinking it over! Indians can not understand, for example, that only 56% of French mothers or 69% of British ones breastfeed.
So even if the World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend to “initiate breastfeeding within one hour following birth; practice exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months; and continue breastfeeding for two years and beyond, while starting from the age of six months a supplementary feeding [...]”, it always sound weird to hear a woman say that she is breastfeeding her 4 year old...And it is not uncommon here...
And now, I am done! Be happy that I have spoken only about the most widespread traditions! And not of the custom of eating the placenta for its hormones (which would be better assimilated if the placenta was consumed raw) and to reduce stress. Or of mothers giving girls “joyous genital tickling” and boys “full-on fellatio” (which for these people is not a sexual practice whereas kissing, even the cheek is…). I must say that these traditions are actually mostly Chinese but still present in some parts of India!
Sources: http://www.lllfrance.org/Autres-textes-LLL/Epidemiologie-de-l-allaitement-Allaitement-et-contraception.html ; http://www.unicef.org/french/nutrition/index_24824.html; http://listverse.com/2014/05/03/10-weirdest-birth-customs-from-around-the-world/